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Get to know Roswell’s Post 4 candidates

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ROSWELL, Ga. — Four out of the six seats in the Roswell City Council are up for election this fall, including Post 4. The seat, currently occupied by mayoral candidate Lori Henry, is assigned as liaison to environmental and public works.

The three who qualified for Post 4 – Andrew Leonardi, Meghan McClanahan and Marie Willsey –answered questions about their candidacy.

Andrew Leonardi

Leonardi

Background: Andrew Leonardi was born and raised in West Belmar, New Jersey. He moved to Atlanta in 1994 and married his wife, Alison, a few years later. They have one daughter, Charlotte.

Leonardi has experience in both leadership and business. He currently owns a restaurant and is the general manager of First Watch in Decatur. According to Leonardi, hard work, integrity and honesty are the three principles that guide him in his professional career and will carry over if elected.

What made you decide to run?

I looked to my daughter, who is turning 10 this year, and thought to myself, “What I can do to make Roswell a better place for her?” After becoming president of my neighborhood association, serving the city was somewhere I thought I could make a bigger difference. The decision was an easy one.  

What do you think are the key issues for the city and citizens?

The development of a smart plan that would attract businesses to Roswell while keeping the historical uniqueness of Roswell is a major issue. Allowing developers to build without considering areas that are in need of revitalization will continue to contribute to our traffic woes.

Developing more character areas throughout the city is another issue. We have an amazing corridor on Canton Street and miles of river walk space, but the Roswell River Parks Master Plan does not go far enough. Plans for something similar should be considered in East Roswell as well.

If elected, what are some of the first issues or projects that you plan to tackle?

An issue that affects all of Roswell, especially in my backyard, is the possible growing deer population due to urbanization and loss of their natural habitat. Looking at smarter development by utilizing existing structures instead of clear cutting or culling would go a long way in keeping animals safe and in the woods where they can thrive.

Meghan McClanahan

McClanahan

Background: Meghan McClanahan and her four siblings were raised in East Cobb. She studied interior design at the Art Institutes of Atlanta and Charlotte. After graduating, McClanahan worked as an assistant events planner, managed retail stores and currently work for O’Neill Landscape Group in Roswell.

McClanahan is also a parent volunteer at Roswell North Elementary, where she has served in various PTA positions, including Harvest Festival Sponsorship Chair, Vice President of Ways and Means, and currently as secretary.

She and her husband Flynn have three children: Flynn Gregg, Macy and Bryce.

What made you decide to run?

My motivation to run for City Council has its roots in my community’s fight to preserve Mimosa Hall. Our wonderful home backs up to the 21-acre property adjacent to Mimosa. The tree canopy and wildlife that call this area their home should be protected.

I’ve seen the community climate in Roswell become divisive in recent years. I have no hidden agenda or ties to anyone or anything, but I have the best interest of all Roswell residents in mind. We need to leave the politics at the door and do what is responsible and beneficial for all citizens.

What do you think are the key issues for the city and citizens?

I believe that our key issues revolve around development. Many citizens are opposed to high density housing because they feel these types of developments don’t support the historic community aesthetic of Roswell. In order to maintain the character of our unique city, we need to make responsible decisions about how we work with developers and land owners. Another key issue is the need to attract more businesses and develop innovative office spaces, potentially out of abandoned properties that can be repurposed in order to flourish. With all of these things also come traffic and infrastructure issues, which also need to be addressed.

If elected, what are some of the first issues or projects that you plan to tackle?

My punch list includes:

  • Addressing the clear cutting of our tree canopy
  • Looking at strategies to relieve traffic
  • Working to fill our vacant commercial properties with sustainable tenants
  • Attracting businesses that will stimulate economic growth to create and sustain a responsible Roswell well into the future

Marie Willsey

Willsey

Background: Marie Willsey and her husband Glen have been Roswell residents since 1993. Their son Parker is currently at junior at the University of Georgia. Their two older children grew up in Florida, while their son Steven recently moved back to the Roswell area.

A native of Cumming, Willsey graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in business administration. For the past twenty years, she has owned a small marketing and communications.

She is currently a president of the Horseshoe Bend Community Association and vice chair of the Roswell Arts Fund board. She’s been involved in ArtAround Roswell, an outdoor sculpture tour in our city’s parks, and was recently appointed to the Fulton County Arts Council. She is also a community representative to Centennial High School Governance Council.

Previously, Willsey has served on the City of Roswell’s Planning Commission and the 2035 Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee.

What made you decide to run?

Over the past ten years, I’ve become increasingly involved in the community as president of the Horseshoe Bend Community Association. I’m excited about the opportunities ahead for the city.

I also recognize the challenges we face in achieving both preservation and smart growth. There’s a need to revitalize our commercial corridors, encourage the right kind of economic development, and invest in essential infrastructure. At the same time, we must preserve the unique character of our historic district and neighborhoods, as well as our natural resources. To achieve these goals, there’s a need to bring a spirit of collaboration to council and build consensus, recognize the voices of all residents and move forward on key initiatives.

I look forward to being a part of this process.

What do you think are the key issues for the city and citizens?

One key issue is to bring back a spirit of collaboration and civility to City Hall. I’ve talked with many Roswell residents, and we all agree that we want a healthy, vibrant city that reflects our uniqueness and provides live, work, play opportunities for its residents of all ages.

It is also critical to broaden the city’s tax base so that we can continue to provide the current level of services, maintain our parks and meet our financial obligations without significant increases in residential property taxes.

We have a lot to talk about, and there’s work to be done.

If elected, what are some of the first issues or projects that you plan to tackle?

Addressing the need for revitalization along the corridors, ensuring smart development and encouraging the right kind of economic growth are among the broader, long-term issues. Finding innovative solutions to our citywide traffic concerns is also important. The long-term vibrancy of the city depends on putting the right plans and efforts into place today, and I’m looking forward to working with Roswell residents on the issues that concern them most.


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